Fire expert: Mt. Rushmore fireworks show "ill-advised" due to dry conditions and high fire risk

Abnormally dry conditions and a persistent risk of summer wildfires in the Black Hills of South Dakota make the fireworks display planned for July 3 at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial an unnecessary, potentially devastating and expensive event, according to one fire expert with intimate knowledge of the region.

Bill Gabbert, former fire management officer for Mount Rushmore and six other national parks in the region, said the controversial fireworks show that could attract 7,500 people, possibly including President Donald Trump, would be “ill advised” even when conditions are not as dry as they are now.

“Burning debris, the burning embers and unexploded shells fall into a ponderosa pine forest and ponderosa pine is extremely flammable,” said Gabbert. “Shooting fireworks over a ponderosa pine forest, or any flammable vegetation, is ill advised and should not be done. Period.”

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